Each March in the Northeast, one of our sweetest traditions is renewed. When the long awaited thaw comes, the sap begins to run. Soon there will be maple syrup.

Wright Farm in Randolph Vermont

Syrup Grading – Wright Family Farm in Randolph Vermont

There is an entire culture that revolves around sugaring in the Northeast, from tapping the trees to boiling in the sugar house and sharing Sugar on Snow with neighbors. Pancakes throughout the year wouldn’t be the same without our maple sugar makers and you’re missing out if you haven’t tried ‘maple milk.’

MAPLE SEASON! Many @cabotcheese farmers are making that liquid gold this spring. Have you ever tried your hand at sugaring? http://ow.ly/Ks2pe


When posting a photo of my first foray into sugar making on Facebook, I received the following warning from Reid Richardson of Richardson Farm Maple. Only a few days in, his insights are dead on, but my wife, 2 year old son and I all agree – there is no turning back!

“Use extreme caution! This is a very addictive path you’re headed down. Next year you will probably hang twice as many buckets and be thinking about how you can convert your garage to fit a 3 by 6 Evaporator. There will be late nights and “naps” at work followed by a strong desire to leave early and check your sap levels. Then when the season is over, you will spend the rest of the year planning for the next big season.”

Maple syrup

The Maple Sugaring Process by New England Illustrated

This week we are highlighting some opportunities to see the process in action and even visit some of our farm families. We also had a few farmers sit down to talk about their love of sugar making and their addiction to the annual pilgrimage to the woods.

Gathering Sap - Wright Farm in Randolph Vermont

Gathering Sap – Wright Family Farm in Randolph Vermont

Our friends at Village Roots Catering produced one of our favorite videos about sugaring, with one of their neighbors, Seth Leach of Woodlawn Farm in Pawlet, Vermont.

Seth Leach, Woodlawn Farm, Pawlet, VT

We are members of the Vermont Sugar Makers Association, but don’t formally participate in any Maple Open House Weekend activities.  Our sugarhouse is located on the farm and is visible from Route 30.  Visitors are always welcome.  The social aspect is one of the main reasons we love sugaring.

Who helps out with the sugaring?
My father, Tim, brothers Pat and Brian as well as my sister Elle and her husband Karl.

What is your favorite part of producing maple syrup?
My favorite part is working in the woods on a warm, sunny spring day after a long miserable winter. It feels therapeutic and good for the soul. Boiling sap becomes a social affair, a great way to spend time with family and friends. The smoke and steam generated in our sugarhouse act as a beacon in the community and typically there is a steady stream of visitors throughout the season.

When do you start preparing?
We usually start working in the woods on sap line repairs in January and February as the weather allows.  This year the weather was not cooperative, so we waited until the weather warmed in March to perform repairs as well as tapping the trees at the same time.  We usually spend 5-10 days working on lines, depending on how much work there is to be done.


Andrew Miller, The Wright Place Farm and Battleridge Syrup, Clinton, ME

Image Courtesy of David Leaming, CentralMaine.com

Caleigh Wright and Andrew Miller – Image Courtesy of David Leaming, CentralMaine.com

We’ve participated in Maine Maple Weekend for the last 3 years and will be boiling with our neighbors again this year, on Sunday, March 22nd from 10 am – 4 pm.

Who helps out with the sugaring?
My wife Caleigh is my main helper. She helps with tapping the trees and running pipeline. She also prepares the food for Maine Maple Weekend with help from a few of her friends and family members.

What is your favorite part of producing maple syrup?
My favorite part of sugaring is boiling the sap. That’s when all your hard work starts to pay off!

What is your favorite grade of syrup?
My favorite grade of syrup is Amber, because it’s the perfect combination between sweet and maple flavored. Caleigh’s favorite grade is Dark because she likes the stronger maple flavor.


Margaret Parsons, Mayval Farm, Westhampton, MA


We will be welcoming people to the farm and sugarhouse from 10 am – 2 pm on Maple Weekend March 21 and 22.  We will also be featuring maple skyr and maple fromage blanc at our farm creamery store which is finally open on weekends.  We are making those two fresh cheeses and bottling white and chocolate milk, as well as selling maple products and beef.

Who helps out with the sugaring?
Our family and farm workers.

What is your favorite part of producing maple syrup?
The smell in the sugarhouse when boiling – wood and sweetness.

What is your favorite grade of syrup?
I personally like Light best, but most of the rest of the family likes Dark or Grade B.


Lucas Vaughan, Lizdick Farm, South Ryegate, VT

The Vaughn Family

The Vaughan Family

We do not do the official open house weekend, but we do welcome anyone who would like to visit. Many of our friends and family visit while we are boiling.

Who helps out with the sugaring?
My wife Kris and I do most of the work. Our daughters Lizzie and Amy also help when they are not in school.

What is your favorite part of producing maple syrup?
My favorite part is pouring maple syrup over pancakes!


When do you start preparing?
We usually start tapping trees around the first of March. It usually takes 2-4 days to tap depending on how deep the snow is and if any help is available.

What is your favorite grade of syrup?
I enjoy all grades of syrup, but my favorite grade is Fancy, because when my grandparents were sugaring they would get so excited to make Light Fancy syrup. So it is always a goal for me to make this grade. Kris enjoys the darker grades.


Reid Richardson, Richardson Family Farm, Woodstock, VT


We have never really participated in the Maple Open House Weekend in the broad sense, more on a hyper-local level, with friends, neighbors, and family. 

When do you start preparing?
Preparation for sugaring begins the minute we boil for the last time of the season. There is lots of clean up to do, not to mention the miles of tubing that needs to be cleaned to be ready for the next season. That means there is no start date; it’s a year-round occupation for us. We do tend to check lines before it snows for the first time and then begin tapping in the middle of February. It typically takes about two weeks to tap. For the last few years my friend Leo Maslan from Cornish, NH and I have done all the tapping.

Richardson Farm Maple Syrup at the Cabot Farmers' Annex in Portland Maine

Richardson Farm Maple Syrup at the Cabot Farmers’ Annex in Portland Maine

Who helps out with the sugaring?
Scott’s father-in-law, Barry Mynter, comes down from Northfield daily to boil with us and we have our long-time friend and indispensable “third in charge,” Willie Franklin. Willie has been around for sugaring for as long as I can remember.

What is your favorite part of producing maple syrup?
My favorite part of producing syrup is the time in the sugarhouse. It’s where all the hard work comes to fruition. There is definitely a social aspect to it, but filling drum after drum with delicious syrup is extremely satisfying. As a child my favorite part was going off and gathering buckets. Uncle Jim would drive the tractor and there would be a whole bunch of us piled on the sap trailer, including family, friends and of course, Willie and Leo. Much of my work ethic was learned on sap gathering missions. It seemed as though we always had to hurry and get the sap so we would come back with a load before they ran out in the sugarhouse.


How much variation is there year to year in the amount of syrup you produce? What is the most favorable weather?
There can be lots of variation from year to year. Sugaring is, after all completely dependent on the weather. The ideal weather is freezing nights in the mid-twenties and warm days in the forties. If it’s any colder at night and it takes too long to warm back up, you don’t get a run or a very short run. Any hotter during the day and it surprisingly slows down the run and makes the trees think it’s time to put out leaves.

Sugaring has been a life-long passion for me. I jokingly commented in a recent Facebook post to be cautious because sugaring is very addictive. Sugaring has a way of getting into your blood. I find this insatiable hunger to always be looking for better ways of making syrup and I always want to make more of it. There are an unlimited number of aspects to producing syrup, so if you get bored making syrup you’re missing something.  

See below for lists of Maple Syrup Festivals and Open (Sugar) Houses.

Vermont Maple Weekend  March 28-29
Cabot Farm Families: Couture’s Maple Shop, Rupert Valley Farm

New Hampshire Maple Weekend — March 21-22, 28-29; April 4-5
Cabot Farm Families: none this year

Maine Maple Sunday — March 22
Cabot Farm Families: Battleridge Syrup

New York Maple Weekends — March 21-22 and March 28-29
Cabot Farm Families: Chambers Valley Farm

Massachusetts Maple Weekend — March 21-22 
Cabot Farm Families: Mayval Farm

Looking for some recipes to make with Maple Syrup? Here are two of our favorites:

Maple Moo Smoothie


Couture’s Maple Cheesecake


If you would like to learn more about Cabot Creamery Cooperative or take a virtual tour of some of our 1,200 farm families, click here.

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